The Sea of Trees online movie review - A Beautiful Tragedy, a Gem.
I've liked most all of Gus Van Sant directed movies, so I was more than curious to view this film. Also when your better half says she loves it, you tend to watch, so I did.
Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey and Oscar nominated Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe also guarantee the production will provide fine performances and they did, superbly.
Arthur Brennan played by McConaughey, is having marital problems; his wife Joan a borderline alcoholic yet successful business women resents the low paying job of Arthur, a science professor, who cannot contribute a fraction of what income she generates, but it's her lack of trust in him ever since he had an affair that fuels her alcoholism.
The movie toggles between current time and what lead to Arthur's near demise. One has to pay attention and not miss anything. The couple had a wonderful life up until Arthur quit, at the behest of Joan, a job he didn't much like and slowly the disparity in their contribution to the household income began to pull them apart.
Joan is diagnosed with brain cancer and Arthur's love showed itself to be steadfast just as love should be. In the hospital Joan made Arthur promise, because she too still loved him, that he would not go through what she was going through, that he should end his life in a beautiful setting where he could die with joyful memories rather than the ominous setting she was now experiencing, should he ever find himself faced with a terminal diagnosis. That was a touching and unexpected scene, rarely found in novels or movies that I can recall.
She has successful surgery and while being transported later from the hospital, the ambulance is hit by a truck and she dies in Arthur's arms. Overcome by guilt and his despair, he decides to join his beloved in the very way she had made him promise, though he was not terminally ill, just overwhelmed. He finds the best place to die searching the web, Aokigahara Forest in Japan, also known as suicide forest, and heads there.
Now keep in mind that the story is non linear and we watch his adventure in the forest whilst we see the marriage deteriorate and the love of the couple rise above it. As I mentioned, you can't miss a minute.
Arthur is in the forest when he encounters a man, Ken Watanabe, who is trying to find his way back to civilisation, having changed his mind about suicide; they are lost now in this sea of trees. Both men as it turns out recount their stories and find the will to live, but the environment gets the best of them and only Arthur makes it out. He tries desperately to find his lost friend, once having recovered at the hospital, but to no avail. The journey of the men is a reflection of life, the choices we make and how everyone has the same, more or less, attachment to a life of love.
The performances are the award winning kind and the original screenplay should have been, maybe will be, a novel one day. The direction of Van Sant, impeccable as usual, true to the list of works I love. You will not have blockbuster special effects here, no violence, no sexual scenes, just a cerebral journey; if you like that sort of thing and I do, oh do I recommend it.